Filling the gap....its time to go wider
I have a missing piece right now to my lens family, and the need to fill it is becoming more important the busier I get with Cass Imaging. I currently have a 80-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens to cover the long distance. I have the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 for shots where I have a little more room and can be a little further back and still blow the background out when wide open. Then my third lens is the Sigma 50mm f/1.4, which I use to cover the shots where I can add a little more to the frame if needed, and fill it at the same time with my subject, also giving me the option of blowing the background out at f/1.4 when needed. My gap right now is with the wider stuff, being able to fill the frame with more, being able to squeeze in nice and close when room isnt available, and ultimately get more in the shot...most importantly for group shots.
My decision was originally between three lenses, two primes and one zoom. I could go with an extremely wide prime, the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G, which is much wider than my widest lens right now, the 50mm, but also a lens that shows some distortion on the outer edges of the frame. My 2nd choice was the 35mm f/1.4G, which is a little wider than the 50mm I have, not as wide as the 24mm, but just wide enough to be used as a landscape lens, a group shot lens, but not too wide that the edges are distorted and need to be fixed in post. My third option was to go with the “safer” choice, the 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens, which is probably the most popular wedding lens there is, covering almost every focal you would need for most of a wedding or family portrait session. The problem with this choice, for me personally is this…every professional wedding photographer uses this lens, because its safe, your prone to make less mistakes with this lens, and at its widest aperture you are less likely to miss the focus when more than one person is in the frame, unlike a 1.4 prime.
But, I love a blown out background and an extremely shallow depth of field, which is obvious in my bokah panorama shots where I push the limits of a shallow DOF. I thought about taking the safe route for now and then going with a prime as I get more weddings under my belt, but when it came time to rent one, I found myself not being overly excited about it, which I always like to feel at least a little geeked out when it comes to new gear. I ultimately NEED this next lens for wedding and portrait work, but of course I WANT it for personal projects, and not being able to go any wider than f/1.4 just kills it for me. Yes, I realize that other than having a single person in the frame, I most likely will be at f/2.8 or higher, but it’s the option…its knowing that I can blow out a background when I want or need to. It’s the idea of keeping my photography consistent and using extremely shallow depths of field whenever I can that made me change my mind about even renting the 24-70mm f/2.8.
Instead, I rented the Nikon 35mm f1.4G AF-S, and it will be the only lens I rent before making my purchase. There is no longer a need to rent the 24mm f/1.4G, I’ve made my mind up and the 35mm is it. Its wide enough and seems to be the perfect lens for filling the gap, so far has been great for group shots, and is a perfect fit my personal style and taste. I extended my rental for another week to use it on my first wedding, and will most likely extend it even longer to bring it with me on my San Diego trip next week. The 35mm f/1.4G is a $1650 lens and currently doesn’t have an identical Sigma twin at a cheaper price, like my 50mm and 85mm, but one was just released at Photokina a couple weeks ago and my next decision will be whether to go ahead and buy the more expensive but more reliable Nikon…or wait to see how good the newly announced Sigma 35mm f/1.4 turns out to be. One other deciding factor that may weigh into my decision is if I do decide to go with the Nikon version, it will be my third Nikon lens, which is the requirement to have a Nikon Professional Services Account, along with two professional camera bodies which I already have. I will be putting together a review of the Nikon 35mm f/1.4G once I return from San Diego, or while Im there, going into all the details that went into my decision as well as some test results while using it on my D800 that ultimately led to me willing to pay the $1600 instead of waiting for the Sigma.